There are those who may be tempted to think that Our Lord came to earth carrying a big eraser, and that when he redeemed us, he simply wiped out all the regulations of the Old Testament. But just because he criticised some of the Pharisees, we shouldn’t think he had the same attitude towards the Law that they upheld so rigidly. In fact, Our Lord tells us that not only did he come to uphold the Law but that the least transgression against it can make us among the least in his kingdom.
It’s important to know that Our Lord didn’t say these words to condemn us, but to save us. After all, he came to bring us life, but he knows that in order to experience that life to the full, we need to follow his commandments. Like a parent who is trying to keep us out of trouble, he warned us to be vigilant against sin, because he knows that giving in to temptation will make us anything but happy. He knows that falling into sin leaves us with less freedom, not more.
How fortunate we are that Our Lord is with us in all our struggles. He doesn’t just issue warnings from afar; he helps us to root out sin wherever it shows up. By examining our conscience daily, we can make sure that sin doesn’t gain a foothold in our hearts. At Compline as we look back on our day, we ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we may have strayed from God’s truth. Then, bringing our failings into the light of God’s love, we can experience his grace and his mercy, and we can get a clearer sense of how we can do better tomorrow.
It has been said that if we want to move mountains, we have to start by carrying away pebbles, and that’s certainly true with sin. If we keep fighting the daily battles against little temptations, asking for God’s help every time we’re tested, we will soon start to make progress. If we give every area of our lives over to God—even those hidden, dark corners—he will give us the grace to conquer them, and perhaps even to become one of the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”